In the heart of the city, gluten free fare is a plenty. Here is my list of eateries that can* cater for coeliac requirements - not just a GF on a menu ...
*As always, we recommend discussing your dietary requirements with wait staff to determine whether the restaurant can meet your needs. All restuarants listed were deemed safe at the time of writing, however, staff, owners, menus and protocols change so even these restaurants may no longer be safe. Use your judgement before ordering.
If you're only interested in a list of 100% GF eateries, we've got a list of them too.
6pm on a Tuesday night is not exactly a peak dining hour, so I will admit I was shocked to have to wait for a table for two at this Mexican restaurant. I had been told by a friend to test it out because there were a number of gluten free options, and they had really good corn...
Needless to say, the idea of corn of the cob hardly had me salivating and desperate to wait for a table. But, my boyfriend was running late from a university lecture, so being solo in the CBD I decided to sit it out. And LUCKY I did.
You may be surprised to learn that Mexican is NOT traditionally American diner-esque greasy nachos and tacos, piled with orange cheese and sloppy sour cream. It’s fresh, light, and fragrant and from my 6-day foray to Mexico, it seems like Mamasita is right on point with the flavours.
The menu is designed as a more tapas style, get lots of little dishes and share, to maximize the journey your tastebuds undertake. As traditional Mexican food is mostly corn and rice based, it should naturally be gluten free and thanks to their authentic approach, us coeliac’s can breathe a sigh of relief at an almost 100% GF menu. Be prepared to wait, as I said, a 6pm Tuesday wait, means a serious wait all the time. But just as my friend told me, the corn is REALLY good, so maybe it’s worth your while.
Mrs Parmas 25 Little Bourke St, Melbourne VIC 3000
Parma’s are the classic pub fare in Australia. A parma and a pot is a weekly ritual for some, but safe to say it has been a long time, if ever, that a coeliac has been able to participate in this pub classic. Mrs Parmas is hoping to change that, and get us glutards back guzzling down beer and gorging on crispy parmagianas. And after tasting one, its enough to make me a passionate pub patron. I mean just look at it?
No the photo is not zoomed in, or a sizeist scam, it really is that big. So wear your loosest pants and bring your strongest appetite to the table. They are out to defeat you with this whopper. Of course, gluten free menus are available.
Gazi 2 Exhibition St, Melbourne gazirestaurant.com.au
George Columbaris has done it again with this inner city Greek haven. Lunch, afternoon or evening the Flinders Street restaurant is busy. GF Bread is available to perfectly accompany Gazi's housemade dips (I would recommend the beetroot and feta combo), as well as GF Pita Bread to house your sizzling souvlaki. MMMMMMMMMMMM! They’re also great with CC as long as you stipulate you have coeliac disease. For any poor people (like me) who have travelled to Greece and suffered the torture of watching everyone chug down 2 euro gyros’s while you are left with greek salad or a 15 euro platter of meat, please visit Gazi to rectifiy this experience. Although they will set you back more than 2 euro, it is reasonably priced and extremely delicious.
Rice Paper Scissors 19 Liverpool St, Melbourne VIC 3000 www.ricepaperscissors.com.au
Funky popular Asian fusion tapas in the heart of the city. What better place to spend a Friday night? The grill is firing, the tables are buzzing and the K-Pop is blaring through the speakers. The only diner is the friendly staff who are unfortunately abit too keen to get rid of you and get the next table in, which is a shame because the food is to die for. Strong flavours that make you drool out loud (think Homer Simpson style). The best way to approach the menu is take a bunch of pals, order a round of the spiced pear bellinis (perfect!) and make a selection of 6 dishes for $35 each. THE FOOD IS GOOD so by choosing all GF options any non-GF pals will still be satisfied. Without a doubt, their star dish is the Korean Fried Chicken (KFC) served with a chipotle mayo. Brings new meaning to the phrase finger lickin’ good.
Tramcar restaurant tramrestaurant.com.au/
A moving restaurant, particularly in the belly of a tram, is a bizarre concept, that works brilliantly. Paired with incredible interior design, a delectable menu and fabulous friendly staff that really know their stuff, this is an experience that is worth your money. I selected a gluten free option when I booked and wanted to confirm this before the tram set off, just in case of any slip-ups. (Unfortunately I am all too familiar with this. The worst of which was boarding a 16-hour flight to LA and realizing my gluten free meal had “forgotten” to be brought on the plane. Trust me, you are glad you weren’t picking me up at the end of that journey.) Luckily my experience was as smooth and simple as it could (and should) be. I had a lovely gentleman whose name escapes me, who took care of me all night long. At the beginning of the tram journey he carefully went through each course of the menu, explaining the traditional option and mine, or how it had been adapted and ensured I was happy with each dish. This process was repeated when every dish was brought out along with double and tripling checking I was happy and the dishes were indeed gluten free. It was such a wonderful night out, and a really fabulous experience particularly for any visitors to Melbourne, to experience an iconic night out, worry free.
Delicious apple crumble pie on the tram >>>
Red Emperor Southgate Melbourne, 3 Southgate Ave, Southbank redemperor.com.au
Full disclosure: I haven’t yet made my way to this restaurant. BUT from reviews from fellow coeliacs, who have, it should be at the top of my (and your) to visit list. Especially as Chinese fare is typically off limits for us. This gem of a restaurant even does GF yum cha if you call ahead of time! By all reports the staff are on top of CC and bring out GF soy sauce as soon as you mention coeliac disease. Hmmm be right back – dumplings are calling me!!!
Chocolate Buddha Federation Square, 23 Flinders St, Melbourne VIC 3000
Separate GF menu with more than 20 items, one of which, is DUMPLINGS! For me, the stand out dish however is the eggplant. Located in the heart of the city at Federation Square, this is Japanese with a difference. They’re also able to cater to fructose intolerances/malabsorption also.
With my mum on one arm, and tickets to the theatre clutched tightly in my hand, I roamed the alleyways of inner Melbourne, looking for a tucked away treasure to dine in. After scouring a number of walls laden with menus, our magical evening was becoming marred by the lack of gluten free options available. I was getting nervous until I turned a corner and saw some simply fabulous chandeliers through a glass window.
Ironic that these chandeliers were literally the light leading me towards love- food love that is. Introducing Portello Rosso, a blend of Spanish and Italian dishes, tapas and mains, piled together with punchy sangria, friendly foreign wait staff and a dim lit ambiance which is hard to capture on paper. (or online for that matter) I spent 3 months travelling through Spain and Italy so I am a harsh critic on the matter of gluten free Spanish and Italian cuisines, especially as in the countries themselves, they are very coeliac aware.
Portello Rosso lived up to the honour of its home countries, and didn’t disappoint. Crispy thin pizzas, delicious salads loaded with flavours and a very alcoholic white sangria (beware!).
If you ever find yourself in this laneway, one of thousands of Melbourne’s special secret keepers, do stop in. It will be worth your while.